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RELA_intro card_NFL_v01a1 of 25
Frostee Rucker2 of 25
By Natasha Burton
To kick us off (get it — kick off?), we have this defensive end for Cinci, who had his best season ever in 2009: 12 tackles and one sack, as well as a game-clinching interception against Pittsburgh. And, sorry, but I have to brag a bit here — I can personally attest that Frostee gives the world's best bear hugs, as we were pals in college.
Wes Welker3 of 25
This wide receiver for the Patriots isn't just good-looking, he's arguably one of the toughest guys in football. After tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament (better known as one's ACL) last January, he's already back on the field. The fact that he's playing at all is amazing, given his major injury.
Tom Brady4 of 25
Ah, he cleans up nicely, doesn't he? Year after year, the man who is lucky enough to call himself Gisele's husband remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league, leading his New England Patriots to win three Super Bowls. He's also a pretty good guy apparently: Brady has reportedly taken less money in the past to benefit the team.
Tony Romo5 of 25
While this QB for the Cowboys gained Hollywood notoriety after dating both Jessica Simpson and Carrie Underwood, Romo's football skills are much more impressive: His career passing rating is the third best of all time.
Reggie Bush6 of 25
Okay, okay, so Reggie got into a bit of trouble recently for some NCAA violations from his 'SC days, but, seriously, who can resist that smile? (Well, the NCAA and Bush's now-ex girlfriend Kim Kardashian can, apparently.) While we don't know how this past year's tribulations will affect Bush's performance, we're hoping he can channel his energy into his famously fast legs — in 2008, the L.A. Times reported that Reggie clocked 22 MPH on his punt returns.
Miles Austin7 of 25
Speaking of Miss Kardashian ... she may have ended her relationship with Reggie Bush, but it's been reported that the reality star has fallen into the wide-receiving arms of Dallas' Austin. What's more interesting than this player's love life though, my guy friends tell me, is the fact that he was recruited from a Division II school (Monmouth), which is super uncommon in the NFL.
Phillip Rivers8 of 25
This Chargers QB showed up to training camp as the team's stand-out star, now that LaDainian Tomlinson, who was rumored to be a bit stardom-obsessed, is no longer on the team. And kudos to Rivers for being able to look quite fetching in a beanie — a look many men try to pull off unsuccessfully.
Peyton Manning9 of 25
As one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and receiver of four NFL MVP awards, the elder Manning has made quite a career for himself. Though, if he gets bored of doing the whole football thing, he can for sure segue into full-time commercial acting — the guy's a natural!
Reggie Wayne10 of 25
Notable for being Manning's favorite receiver, this University of Miami alum tore up the field last year: He racked up 1,264 yards and 10 TDs, and he managed a 65-yard score when the Colts played the Steelers. (No wonder Manning loves him!)
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Eli Manning11 of 25
While not as successful accolade-wise, the younger Manning isn't stuck in big brother Peyton's shadow — he's clearly the cuter-in-an-innocent-way of the two. Though, Eli may need to be a bit more careful on the field as to not mess up that boyish mug of his — he was recently knocked out of a game and required 12 stitches in his head. Ouch.
Alex Smith12 of 25
This super stud certainly puts the tight in tight end. More notable than Smith's dashing looks, however, is that he did the opposite of NBA player LeBron James this year and took his talents to Cleveland after a good run with the Eagles.
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Brady Quinn13 of 25
So, this Notre Dame alum, and former Browns player, didn't exactly make his new team, the Broncos, so proud during a recent pre-season game. While Tim Tebow may end up replacing him as #2 QB, life's not so bad for Brady: My guy friends tell me he's got a "smokin' hot" girlfriend. (And, judging from this photo, Quinn also has some enviable biceps.)
Matt Cassel14 of 25
Unlike Quinn, Cassel didn't get too much field time in college (he was eclipsed by another Matt — Leinart). But, also unlike Quinn, this wholesome-looking stud proved he has what it takes to lead a pro team: He took over as the Patriots' QB in 2008 when Tom Brady was injured and he now leads the Chiefs.
Bart Scott15 of 25
With his team currently featured on HBO's series Hard Knocks, we've gotten a behind-the-scenes glance at how entertaining this rather loud-mouthed, and hilarious, linebacker can be.
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Mark Sanchez16 of 25
Leading the Jets again this year is Sanchez, shown here in his National-Championship-winning days at USC. He proved to have quite the successful rookie year — taking his team all the way to the AFC championship game (in which the Jets were not surprisingly defeated by veteran QB Manning and his Colts.)
Greg Camarillo17 of 25
Miami fans may have been somewhat shocked to learn that this wide receiver would be catching passes for the Minnesota Vikings this year. We'll be interested to see if Camarillo can help not-yet-retired Brett Favre make it back to the big game this year. (Maybe if Favre gets his Super Bowl XLV ring, he'll finally take off the helmet and pads and begin his commentating career already?)
Hank Baskett18 of 25
Most of us know this guy as former Playboy model Kendra Wilkinson's extremely supportive husband. But avid football fans may be watching this wide receiver to see what he does with his $800,000, one-year contract with the Eagles this year. (He was named the special teams MVP in 2007, played for the team in 2008, and then moved to Indianapolis for a brief stint with the Colts last year.)
John Elway19 of 25
And now begins our parade of best quarterbacks of yesteryear, starting with my favorite QB: Denver Broncos legend Elway. As much as the current players make us swoon, there is just something so sexy about those '80s era guys.
Joe Montana20 of 25
This QB spent 16 years playing pro football, leading the 49ers to many a victory. Today, Montana serves as a spokesman for Skechers Shape-Ups, which, we imagine, keep his legs nice and athletic-like ... just the way we want 'em.
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Dan Marino21 of 25
Speaking of endorsements, Montana isn't the only uber-famous football player to promote a health-related product. The Dolphins' most famous QB is now a spokesman for weight-loss regimen Nutri-System. (And, it should be noted that Marino's cameo in Ace Ventura Pet Detective ranks number one for sports figures in films in our minds.)
Troy Aikman22 of 25
See what awaits you, Brett Favre? After a long and successful career, you can comfortably watch football from the studio wearing a suit and a brightly-patterned tie, as Aikman now does with Joe Buck.
Steve Young23 of 25
Or, to take this retired-football-player-as-commentator role a step further, one can make like the 49ers' former QB Young and become an NFL analyst for ESPN.
Joe Theismann24 of 25
And yet another famous QB lends his expert opinion via commentary, by hosting Playbook on the NFL Network. Hopefully Brady Quinn can step up his game when the seasons starts so he can follow in his fellow ND alum's footsteps to football greatness.
Jerry Rice25 of 25
Last, but certainly not least, we have one of the best wide receivers of all time. Rice was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame this month — though we're guessing this had more to do with his football skills than his enduring good looks.